In Germany alone, over 10 million tons of potatoes are harvested each year. Worldwide, the total even exceeds 341M tons. More than 80 years ago, Grimme developed the first potato harvesting machine. A great deal has happened since that time, and now Grimme is the world market leader in potato harvesting technology. Besides the actual harvesting, efficient storage technology is equally important to ensure that potatoes remain available in top quality to meet demand.
For this type of requirement, Grimme offers the SL80 store loader which uses the Hengstler absolute encoder AC58. But how does a store loader function exactly and what are the challenges? Using suitably adapted sensors, the store loader detects the current filling level. Using these values and the positioning data, the Hengstler encoder controls the travel and angle of the conveyor mechanism using an intelligent system. The goal is to fill the storehouse in a smooth and defined manner. The storage of fresh potatoes is the little-known link between automated harvesting and on-time processing or marketing.
This customer-specific solution is paying off. So far there have been no reports of problems or breakdowns. This means that Grimme’s customers can rely on their machines at all times and Grimme relies on Hengstler for determining the positioning data. And the signs for the future are positive, particularly in the area of potato harvesting. Demand for fresh potatoes is forecast to remain flat in industrial countries, whereas the market for processed potatoes is growing due to increasing demand for ready meals. However, consumption of fresh potatoes is growing in developing countries because people’s nutrition is growing more varied.
To provide greater ease of operation and flexibility to farmers, digital technology is continuing to make headway in harvesting technology. However, Digital Farming is not just being determined in the Cloud, but in everyday tasks, mostly in demanding conditions.